Top 5 Books Of 2017

Well, hello!

Yes, I know, long time no see. I will not give excuses this time though. I have been working and I got into Cinema school and I am (sort of) becoming a writer, so let’s say I have been busy -although not really…but I am super excited!

It’s the end of January 2018 now and I thought I would give you my best reads of the year. However, I have not read that much in 2017, and that is why reading at least 50 books is on my New Year’s resolutions, so hopefully I will not abandon this blog entirely and give you some more reviews this year.

Also, I thought I would talk about movies, lifestyle… and all sort of things here in the future, so hopefully you will like that as well!

Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. ‘Dept. Of Speculation’, by Jenny Offill: Hopefully my dearest friend Viviana will write a review of this book to post here, because I am sure her words will express WAY BETTER what this book represents. It is beautiful. Just read it. (A review on this book is coming any time soon so forgive me for not giving any further details).
  2. ‘Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever?’, by Dave Eggers: I actually read this in 2016 but it never got the attention it deserved so please excuse me for including it here. It is probably not the best book this fella has written, although it is (so far) the only one I have read from this author, and I will definitely read some more of his work because DAMN THIS IS GOOD. I love political satires and that is basically what this is, although entirely in the form of dialogue, so not boring and not long at all. Go read it, now.
  3. ‘Freedom’, by Jonathan Franzen: I FINALLY got to read this. I know, I’m late on the game, but what can I say? I was a little bit reticent about this one for some reason, and after reading it I understood I left it for too long. Very deep, very sentimental, the sort of book that gives you a change of heart. I believe it is a must; actually, read whatever Franzen has written, he never disappoints.
  4. ‘Pond’, by Claire-Louise Bennett:  I could not have a top 5 without a compilation of short stories. I believe this is the book which has got me into reading more female authors, which is weird because I have always loved female literature, although for some patriarchal reason it was always men on my shelf. What captivated me about this one is the realness that there is to it. Nothing crazy about it, it is just refreshing to read something genuinely pure for once.
  5. ‘Marina’, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón: Finally but not least, a Spanish one. This made me cry the way ‘A Catcher In The Rye’ made me cry, and that was weird. It is more of a juvenile reading, but really good and touching regardless. If you know a bit of Spanish, please read it in its original language.

I hope this list gave you some new reads for the coming year, or at least I hope it gave you a better idea of that is to come in my reading list this 2018.

If you have any recommendations, please send them through!

♥ Currently reading (and raving about it): ‘The Power’, by Naomi Alderman ♥

Create

I was going to post a review, but I thought that would be a bit hypocritical, since I have not worked AT ALL on this blog as I said I would.

So let’s talk about life, and proyects, and how to avoid them, because that is pretty much all I’ve been doing.

I’ve had several chances in my life that could have changed my life forever. I made decisions about love, ideals, work. And here I am. What have I become in life so far? An administrative. Period.

This has not happened because I did not have enough and posible future-changers coming my way, this has happened because I chose not to take those chances. I chose to be a coward and stay in my not so great safe space, because it was safe, it is safe.

But I have learnt that safe does not mean good. You only live once (really), and while you are here you should at least try and create someting. And I don’t mean do something great, do something that will change the world -to be honest that is pretty hard to do. I am just saying create, work hard on something you like just for the sake of it because at the end your time in this planet will be just as short.

Also, apply this basis to everything in your life. Be passionate; love like crazy; if you can’t quit that job you hate, try and improve your time there; be kind.

Take chances.

You can’t know what life brings you if you are not willing to take some risks.

Pretender Readers

I am struggling a bit lately and I am unable to write a good review, so here is another opinion post, because I though I was in a bad mood but it has been a few months now so I guess this is who I am now, a hater with a blog.

There is something that has been catching my attention lately, and it is this particular type of people that do not read but pretend they do and go on about it. They love feeling like they know everything about something without having the slightly idea on the subject in question. They will tell you how they loved this book they read years ago, how they tried and make everyone they knew read it afterwards. They will tell you about this other book they did not read but searched reviews on and got their own conclusions on, how amazing it is, how touching, how interesting.

I find this really funny because more and more people read less and less nowadays, and so this works with and for all them. These pretenders are used to find non-readers, and so their strategy gets better, but what is interesting and equally entertaining is how they do not know how to react with a deep reader.

If you are a reader you will understand how you cannot be tricked anymore. You know your readings, you know your books, and what you do not know about you want to know, you want to read everything about anything and get your collection bigger and bigger. Now, when you happen to find one of these, let’s so call them, pretender readers, you get that grin on your face while they speak. You know what they are trying, and it does not work with you. They will talk about easy readings, books that have spread among the masses for the past few months, novels that lack of any depth, novels that you know everything about now and that are not interesting enough.

I have mastered a skill now, I have my tricks, and this is to follow them into their conversation. Be a bit like them, pretend you are interested, ask questions, get to know them. Once you know where they come from, start talking about real books, name Salinger and Bukowski and Franzen, find their weakness, and so show them how wrong they happen to be.

As I am writing this I am feeling like a “mean girl”, but to me this is something that we have to fight and eradicate. We have to teach people how to be real. Me myself, I do not really know what I am talking about most of the time, but I will be honest about it, I will not pretend I am an expert on a subject, I will try and learn more about something and share only what I do know for sure. We should get away from the “I am cool because I am a reader” that we sadly see more often on social media now. Since when did we start pretending to be readers to impress others?

My reading list is still growing and is very long, but I do not pretend I have read books I haven’t even heard of; instead, I find new books and get the time to read them, and then grow my own opinions on them. The world is already too unreal for us to praise this falsehood.

Review on reviews

Reviewing a book is easy. You open the book, you read the book, you finish the book and then you write your opinion on it. Your review may be on the book as a whole, on the story itself, the way it is written, or even in the cover only. At the end it does not matter, a review is an opinion and this opinion is personal and untransferable.

Now, there is people writing these reviews and these reviews exist because there is people reading them. People want to know what a book is about before reading it, they want to know if it will be worth the time, if they will get something out of it at the end. They are looking for something a preview will never provide as a preview will give you a glimpse of what is to come, but it will never tell you about how the book is written, or if the settings are credible, or if you will relate to the characters in any way.

Reviews provide a wider vision of what is inside a book and the tricky thing is that it comes straight from the reader’s point of view, subjectivity at its fullest you may say. But then, if this is the case, you may wonder: are reviews trustworthy?

Well, they are and they are not. They will never be objective of course, but they will give you a better and more reliable idea on the book in question, and just like with movies, if the amount of bad reviews is greater than the good ones, then why even bother. But of course, and being fairly honest, if you want to know if you would like a book, you should just go an read it yourself, because at the end of the day your opinion is the only one that will matter.

As I see it, reviews are tools for readers, and they should only be seen as such. Once you start doing some research and building a little community, you start to know who to trust and who shares your same –or similar- vision, and that is when you start to choose whether to read or not to read a book based on a review, and not before.

However, you should never judge a book by its cover (although marketing has improved a lot in the past five years), and you should never base your thoughts on other people’s views. Just go read, read a lot, and build your own bedrock, as your own opinion is the most reliable one.

On Online Publishing

Getting a book published nowadays is undeniably easy, as you can just go online and create your own editorial and edit and upload your own book yourself. In the US only there are in between 600.000 and 1.000.000 books published every year, and going up. You can imagine the global figures.

This is fascinating, as this means that there are millions of people writing books every day. These books are being made accessible for everyone to read online and the possibilities are endless. This gives the author total autonomy on their book, from beginning to end. And this may sound idyllic, but, with all honesty, this is making more damage than good to the publishing industry.

I don’t think it is necessary for me to relate here how the book industry sales are actually declining, how hard it is for an author to have their book on an actual bookshelf on an actual store, and let’s not talk about having a best seller.

My thoughts on massive publishing and why it is not a recognized market has nothing to do with statistics. The problem comes with non-controlled releases and how this affects the quality of what is being published, because literally anyone can publish a book online right now.  Most of these online publications have been rejected by proper editorials, and, being harshly honest, there are books out there that simply should not exist.

And now you will say: “But there is a lot of good authors that are not being recognized and this gives them an opportunity to stand out by themselves without having to wait for a miracle”. Yes, indeed. But this also gives really amateurish authors the freedom to publish books poorly edited, making it even harder for brilliant authors to stand out in between the mess.

What I intend to say is that I have always thought that the editing of a book is almost as important as the story itself. If you write a book and you do not have a good editor behind it, that book will never be a master piece, as authors tend to be sentimentally attached to their job and stubborn when it comes to changes, meaning they will leave their book as they feel looks right to them, but not to the expected public.

I am not saying that this market should disappear, or that these new authors should stop writing books. I want to encourage authors to keep on writing, to keep on publishing, as the freedom of speech is one of the most sacred rights we have nowadays, something that has been really hard to achieve and which is still being watched closely by overly-offended people. So keep on creating, but learn from your mistakes, do not rush into publishing your work, do not take bitter reviews personally, and appreciate quality over quantity, as this is what will give you recognition at the end.

New Purchases

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How many times have you heard “New Year, New Me” so far this new 2016? To me it is more like “New Year, New Reads”, and I am already planning what my reading list is going to include this year (open for sugestions as always).

So here are my picks of the month again, which are basically auto-christmas presents as I like to call them:

The Bachelors, by Muriel Spark

Interesting plot, intriguing idea, and good reviews all over the place, I will be very disappointed if I do not like this one. Set in London, it presents “The Bachelors” as its characters, and the torments these will too suffer, which means drastic changes and excentric situations, or at least that what I expect.

– Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, by Dave Eggers

I mean, who is not attracted by that title? I am sure the “weird title” and the bright cover are a very well done marketing strategy, but I am certainly sold. Thomas and Kev, abductor and abducted respectivelly, find themselves in an abandoned military base, a perfect place for them to have “a conversation”, so high expectations for this one.

– How To Be Both, by Ali Smith

Not sure if I have the “camera” version or the “eyes” version of this book, but either way I am expecting something interesting and moving. It involves art and changes of time, mirrowing two different eras with different characters. Thanks to my friend Vivi for letting me borrow this one,  I have a feeling I am going to like it coming from her.

And I may be repeating the repeated now, but Happy New Year everyone, hope you have a good start and a better ending to this 2016, and please, read a lot.

NEW PURCHASES

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When it comes to books, I have to admit that I am more of a buyer, as I tend to buy books and collect them in between my tiny room in London and my not so tiny room in Spain, and I feel quite proud of my little collection, although it does not make a difference if you like to spend money on books or you prefer to read for free in the library, the list of books to read is never ending, and so I guess I will have to rent a bigger room eventually.

Anyways, and regardless my lack of space, these are my picks of the month (only three, I’m taking it easy, I still have books that I bought last month and haven’t had a chance to read yet):

  1. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang

Excited about this one, I read the first page before buying it and I was already loving it. It is the story of Yeong-hye and her husband, and how their life changes when Yeong-hye starts seeking for a more ‘plant-like’ existence. Definitely doing a review after I finish it.

  1. How To Be Alone, by Jonathan Franzen

I know we can always expect something good from Franzen, as he does not publish anything he is not really happy about, but I have not heard about this one before, although it is supposed to be a collection of essays with critic tones, and I am a sucker for those.

  1. Hangover Square, by Patrick Hamilton

This was a random pick, I was basically attracted by the title and I did not even check what it was about when I bought it. It is set in London 1939, and it is supposed to be one of those convoluted stories you get yourself trapped in, so it seems worth reading.

Also, as you may have noticed walking down the streets after Halloween, it is Christmas season!  Which means Santa is coming with new books in his sack, and I think the 2016 list is going to be long…